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Archive for December 2015

Supreme Knight’s 2015 Christmas Message

Worthy Brother Knights:

As Christmas approaches, we as Knights of Columbus find ourselves looking back on a year of grave violence and persecution throughout the world. Yet, we remain hopeful, for the prophet Isaiah tells us:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. … For a child is born to us.”

I pray that this year’s Christmas celebration may strengthen our hope in the peace that Christ brought through his birth. May we find strength through our fraternity, so that we may do our part in sharing his message of peace and mercy to all our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

On behalf of the Knights of Columbus, I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and a happy new year.

Vivat Jesus!

Fraternally,

Carl Anderson
Supreme Knight

Wishing You the Real (Not the TV Version) of Christmas, Filled with Peace and Tranquility

A Message from the Executive Director
Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dear Friends,

When I was 8 years old, I asked my father: “What would you like for Christmas?” He replied: “Peace and tranquility.” Since I had my eye on the big Barbie head whose hair I could braid and curl—the one that came with real makeup—I was really disappointed by his choice. Who would want a boring Christmas with nothing but peace and tranquility?

Today, as I watch the sun rise from my breakfast table, drinking coffee and enjoying the silence before my kids wake up to get ready for school, I know what he meant. He did not desire the TV-version of Christmas, all dressed up but hollow inside. Besides, that shiny version would have been impossible. Money was tight. He had 3 children under the age of 8. He struggled with depression.

But, years later, I realized that he got his wish on that Christmas day in 1972.

That Christmas, my brother, my sister and I woke up before dawn. As we did everyday, we turned off the bedroom air conditioners to save on the electrical bill and quietly closed each door to keep the bedrooms cool. We knew that sometime later that day, we would go back in to change into our scratchy church clothes. We ran barefoot on the smooth tile to the Christmas tree in the living room. The tropical heat made our Balsam fir fragrant and we inhaled its scent with our eyes closed. We touched the tips of the branches and rubbed the tree’s oil on our fingers so we, too, could smell like the tree. To this day, pine scent brings that moment back.

The rule was that we had to wait for our parents to wake up before we opened anything. So we navigated the pile carefully, without touching the gifts, trying to guess what was in each box. Once we’d made our guesses, I remember my brother finding Chips Ahoy cookies in the pantry, which served as our breakfast appetizer. We waited for my parents to emerge from their bedroom.

When they finally did, and once they had finished making their coffee in an old dented stove-top espresso maker, we were allowed to open the gifts. It was a free-for-all. We tore into each gift and threw each other the boxes. My mother helped my two-year-old sister unwrap hers. My father sat on the couch, eyes half closed, smiling. I got my big Barbie head. Our rescue mixed-breed dog, Mitsuki, tried to eat the wrapping paper and ribbons.

When we were finished unwrapping gifts and had quieted down a bit, my father stood up. He was wearing his favorite worn out Bermuda pants and a white t-shirt. He remarked, solemnly, that during the night he had heard a lot of noise on the roof and in our backyard. My brother, who had sworn earlier that week that he had seen Santa flying in the skies and he had waved directly at him, excitedly said that it must have been Santa’s sleigh. My father suggested we check out the patio to make sure nothing had fallen from the sleigh. We ran to the back gate.

We stared outside, beyond our avocado tree and the hibiscus bushes, to the middle of our yard. “How did Santa manage this?” we asked wide-eyed. My parents replied: “It must have been magic.”

There was a swing set, slide and all. I looked at my father and mother. I saw their expression. I did not know what it meant then. But now I do. It was peace and tranquility. The chaos, the poverty, the worries, the sleeplessness and the struggles all vanished—even if just for a moment—in that perfect moment of sacrifice and giving.

Many years later, I asked my parents how they had managed it. They told me they had purchased the swing set on “layaway” and paid for it a little bit at a time. Our next-door neighbor, Don Mino, was in on the secret and had stored it in his yard. On Christmas Eve, around 3 am, our neighbor woke up and helped my father carry it, partly assembled, over the chain link fence that separated our yards. My parents had spent some time assembling it and had gone to bed only an hour before we had woken up.

That brief moment of peace and tranquility—when everything sharpened into focus, when nothing else mattered—had been woven out of their silent, daily and heartbreaking struggle, combined with the strong and enduring sense of hope one can only have when one is truly free.

This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about our work at Becket. Every American has the right to wish and strive for peace and tranquility. After all, isn’t that what believing is all about? To hope that, amidst our daily struggles, it all has a purpose, that there is something beyond us, that we were born with our eyes on the far horizon. That the days—good and bad—will end up painting a picture of our lives that has meaning beyond the challenges, beyond untold grief, beyond boredom and personal sacrifice.

I think few people know this better than the Little Sisters of the Poor. This last week, I heard a government official tell the Sisters, once again, that they had to be “reasonable.” After all, the government had fashioned an “accommodation” for them.

This is untrue. The Sisters movingly explained to this government official why they will not sign this contract the government is trying to make them sign. The contract triggers a government takeover of their insurance plan so that the Little Sisters’ own plan will be used to provide drugs and devices that go against the very core of what the Sisters believe. They reminded the government official of the $70 million in IRS fines, per year, that will be levied against them unless they comply with this unjust demand. As I listened to them this week, I thought of their many days of silent and long service to the elderly people in their homes who have no one else to take care of them.

The Little Sisters of the Poor shouldn’t have to fight their own government to continue to serve. Not in America.

Our lives, which are filled both with hard work and hope, are ours to live as our convictions inspire us to—not as the government dictates.

This Christmas, I wish for each of you a Christmas day filled with true peace and tranquility.

Merry Christmas!
Sincerely,

Kristina Arriaga
Executive Director

Please Take Action To Support Conscience Rights!

Dear Brother Knight,

Your action is needed to urge Congress to protect the rights of conscientious objectors to abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

Real protection is possible, but Congress needs to hear from you today as they consider a measure that could become law before the end of the year.

The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) provides conscientious objectors a means for protecting their conscience rights through legal action. Contact your members of Congress to support ANDA .

Immediate action is necessary. Right now, Catholic schools and institutions are being forced to cover abortion—even late-term abortion—in their health plans. Right now, Catholic health professionals are being coerced into participation in abortion, sterilization, and contraception in violation of federal law.

Contact your elected representatives today and ask them to support ANDA. Thank you for doing your part to protect conscience rights and to build a Culture of Life.

Fraternally,

Carl A. Anderson
Supreme Knight

Your Support Is Urgently Needed To Protect Life!

Dear Brother Knight,

Please act now to encourage Congress to protect the rights of conscientious objectors to abortion, sterilization, and contraception. These rights are under attack.

In California, for example, the state government has issued a directive requiring all health plans to cover abortions. Religious ministries in the state, including Catholic schools, are right now being forced to add abortion to their health plans.

This sort of coercion violates federal law, but these federal conscience protections have not been enforced. More protection is needed as similar violations occur throughout the country. Health care workers and organizations need the ability to act on their own to defend their rights in court.

The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) grants this by providing victims a means for protecting their conscience rights through legal action. Contact your members of Congress to support ANDA.

Immediate action is necessary. Consider the case of Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, RN, a nurse in New York City, whose employer forced her to choose between assisting in a late-term abortion and losing her job:

[T]he hospital where I work coerced me to assist in a 22-week abortion. They were well aware that as a faithful Catholic, I could not participate in the killing of a pre-born child. Yet, they threatened my job and my nursing license if I did not take part in the murder of a baby.

Her story is here: https://youtu.be/uknxrMI61WI

As Pope Francis has said, “conscientious objection is a right, and part of the body of all human rights. If we want to make peace, we must respect all rights.”

Thank you for doing your part to protect conscience rights and to build a Culture of Life.

Fraternally,

Carl Anderson
Supreme Knight

Knights of Columbus
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